Friday, November 21, 2008

Why we choose to share our lives with dogs

I got my first dog the week that my husband moved out because things had become so painful that we could no longer live together. The cottage I live in is remote and I wanted and needed a guard dog, a companion when the children were with their dad , and something to get me out of the house, moving around. I was heart sick and heart sore and at Llanelli dogs home struck lucky when the first dog I saw had liquid eyes of kindness.
Bella was about a year old, and up for a good walk and walk we did. I couldn’t sit down and paint. There was too much trouble in mind and only in movement and in being outside could I find any measure of peace. She was kind and good at barking at strangers, wonderful with the children who were small at the time.
I loved to lie next to her and listen to her heart beat, loved the warmth of her and the weight of her when she curled on the bed next to me like a wolf guardian. The cats liked her too.
I have Bella to thank for meeting Robin too. He was staying at a friend’s house with his dog, Larry, and Bella took to both of them, so the day after we met we went for a long long walk along the coast together, dogs running here and there, conversation weaving in and out. We have been walking, mostly in step, ever since.
One dog is wonderful. They can go anywhere with you, especially when they are as good as Bella. But I was persuaded by Kath to go and see another dog who was in need of a home. Eleri had suggested a couple of times when I walked past the farm at Treginnis that I should take Floss home with me. Floss, who looked like an overgrown Jack Russell, failed sheepdog, bottom of the pack with her tail curled so tight under her frightened tummy that I thought for a few days that it was docked. Needless to say Bella’s kindness did not encircle this new bitch in the pack.
I took Floss with the idea of encouraging a friend to have her. She is still here and has a flag of a tail. She loves ponds and balls and has grown to tolerate cats, and in that way cats have they love to sit just that little bit too close to her for comfort, hers, not theirs.
Why do I choose to live with dogs? A different kind of companionship. I love to walk and walk with the dogs and watch them run wild and always come back and sit for a while if I stop to rest or look at the view, or write and think. Bella leans against me, reading the wind, pointing out foxes. I love the way they come and pull me away from my work and make me walk, whatever the weather, if they think I have been still for too long. I love the wolf wildness and protective nature of Bella, who guards the cats when we walk. I love to watch them dreaming by the fire in winter. My life with dogs seems so much more selfish than that with the cats.
Bella’s muzzle is greying now. I still love to hear her heart beat. Floss is a clown, and Rosie, well, she is an inspiration in her own way.


Jennifer Rose said...

I miss not having a dog. They add so much joy to my life. It is hard to explain to a person that has never had a dog how much they can mean in a person's life. When we get finances together we want to adopt a dog, young or old. It doesn't matter to us if it is an older dog. Its giving that dog a good life for what time they have left and that is what matters.

Anonymous said...

How generous of you to share such a candid picture of your self.Very touching.

Anonymous said...

Can't write. Too many tears....

Griffin said...

If you didn't have Bella, there wouldn't be those lovely photos of Pixie and Bella having conversations on your walks!

There is something about Bella that looks comforting. Floss' graduation from tucked tail to flag tail is wonderful and Rosie... a long-legged, funny mischief!

I admit, I am so much more of a cat person, but your dogs do look lovely in their characters. I love the way the cats are getting Floss acclimatised to them!

Estorbo said...

My Gard. now I hab to loogh ad d.a.r.g.s. een a deefferend lighd.

The Wooman has dargs een Cape Town, an' she WALGHS weeth them.

I preten' nard to know.

Anonymous said...

Our cat Cuca frequently arrives on the table with his head fur sopping from Cardigan kisses. He doesn't seem to mind.
I'm glad Floss has blossomed under your care.

Anonymous said...

What you think about my cat? :)